Aliens: Colonial Marines Review

by: Clint Ritchie

Almost a month and a half since its release, Aliens: Colonial Marines has not been well received to say the least. Bad AI, lack luster storyline, and the overall MIA Xenomorphs have left fans of the license dumbfounded.

We here at Horror News Network are going to break this game down and find out why so many gamers have said “Game Over Man, Game Over!”

To begin, a little background on the development of ACM.

• 2001: A previous game titled Aliens: Colonial Marines was developed by Check Six Games and was to be published by Fox Interactive and Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 2 but was canceled before its release. Despite the similarities in gameplay and story, however, Gearbox has claimed that their game is unrelated to this early version.
• 2006: Sega announces they purchased full electronic rights to the Alien Franchise.
• 2008: The game's title was officially announced as Aliens: Colonial Marines. Later that year, a article was published that the Aliens: Colonial Marines game had been delayed, supposedly because of layoffs at Gearbox Software. However, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford insisted that development on the game continues.
• 2010: Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Gearbox showed five new screenshots and stated that the game remains a priority for them.
• 2011: Gearbox unveiled a teaser trailer and officially announced that Colonial Marines would be presented on E3 2011 and that the game was expected to be released in spring 2012.
• 2012: Sega announced that it had decided to delay the game yet again, pushing it to a fall 2012 release date. In addition, Gearbox Software also announced that they would be releasing a new trailer. Gearbox Software announced a February 12, 2013 launch for Aliens: Colonial Marines on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with a Wii U version announcement "at a later time".
• 2013: A anonymous whistle blower reported to Destructoid that Gearbox had been taking people and resources off Aliens: Colonial Marines to put them towards Borderlands, and yet was still collecting full payments from Sega as if they were working on Aliens: Colonial Marines. When Sega discovered this misconduct they canceled Colonial Marines, which led to the games protracted development; "At some point in 2008, Sega temporarily pulled the plug on the game […] They caught wind of Gearbox shifting resources despite still collecting milestone checks as if the team were full size and lying to Sega AND 2K about the number of people working on each project. This led to the round of layoffs at Gearbox in late 2008."
• The first DLC pack is called Bug Hunt and will be available for download in March 2013.

After nearly 8 years in development and a few studios later, one would believe that this must be the game that will give Aliens the recognition it deserves. Sadly many as well as myself felt like this was a huge step backwards while being borderline insulting to the fans of Aliens.

First impressions of the game are terrible. Playing on Solider difficulty (Normal) alone is awful. The AI of the Aliens is very sluggish and stiff. If you remember the Xenomorphs from any of movies in the franchise they were very intelligent and crafty, often referred to as “The Perfect Organism”. In the game, Aliens run out in the open and charge your position as if they were committing suicide, they don’t hunt, they don’t retreat and they never learn to adapt to their environment as you would expect them to which makes the motion tracker pointless and only good for the role play factor.

Next is your AI “counterpart” O'Neil. A fellow marine that follows you throughout most of the game makes playing non co-op 100 times scarier than the game itself. O'Neil is the epitome of horrible AI. The funny thing is he is to be the character your actually supposed to like and root for but because of his bad AI you will find yourself rooting for Aliens to kill him while shooting your grenade launcher at him as well. O'Neil is equipped with the smart gun, arguably one of the most powerful weapons to have, but the kicker is, HE NEVER USES IT! 90% of the game O Neil just stands there and looks at a wall while Xeno's are bombarding you and when he does decide to help out it's like he's firing blanks. You hear this motto a lot in the game “We don’t leave our marines behind.” O'Neil seems to always forget that because if hes not staring at a wall he runs way ahead of you for no reason almost always giving your position away making it impossible to sneak around enemies.

Now here is where it gets really irritating, this is a Aliens game hence the name Aliens in the title. After the first level, you are no longer fighting Xneos, you are fighting HUMANS! This went from being a “Sci-fi Horror” to a Call of Duty wannabe right after the tutorial level. No dramatic story, horror tension here, just you fighting Weyland Yutani right off the bat. While its understandable that you would be fighting the corporation at some time in the game it goes hand in hand. Aliens and the corporation are in every single movie, but they focused almost the entire game on the fighting these mercenaries. No respect for the Xneomorphs, IN ALIENS!!!!!

Game Level Break Down:
• 1 Tutorial Level
• 3 Alien Focused Levels
• 3 COD Try Hard Levels
• 3 Mixed Alien/Human Levels
• Average Complete time 5-7 Hours

This was not the engaging, unique experience we were promised by Gearbox. The story line is all based around the Fox approved sequel to the James Cameron Aliens. Though there are tons of fan services thrown in like the drained sentry guns, Bishops severed torso, and Hundson's fate it does not make up for the fact that new set of marines in the game have absolutely no personality. You could care less about any of them even though there are specific parts in the game where they clearly want you to. All you can clearly tell about the characters is that there is 3 guys, 2 girls, and of course Bishop. There is a twist in the game as well, and instead of making you feel like you just learned something amazing that would give would give a one up on other Alien fans who haven’t played the game it just creates utter confusion. !!!!!!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!! You find out a marine from the previous movie has survived! But who could it be? We did see everyone die didn’t we? Hicks is alive and well! Turns out he was not on the escape pod that jettisoned from the Sulaco with Ripley, Newt and Bishop to Fiorina 'Fury' 161. All you can be thinking at that moment is WTF!??? If you are expecting a good explanation about how this could be well, too bad, you wont get one. Lastly, the ending you will be facing the Queen Alien, the big baddest mama of all the bad mama's out there, right? WRONG!!! Whether you are playing on Solider difficulty (Normal) or Ultimate Bad Ass difficulty (Very Hard) the Queen battle will last you about 3 minuets tops. Don’t be fooled either, you will not be fighting the Queen directly, you kill a few Xneos then runs around pushing some buttons for some storage loader equipment then cut scene, Game over. Obviously Gearbox proved that that their creativity is just that, in the box at all times. If you didn’t suffer enough trudging through the game, the cut scene for the ending just gives you one more kick in the teeth for good measure, another one liner explanation as if by now you would be expecting anything great.

Now that we have covered a majority of bad with the game there are some good parts to it. The atmosphere for the most part looks authentic to the movies except for some non textured black squares that the Aliens come out of and a lot of screen tearing for the Xbox 360 version. The sounds music are authentic to the movies as well. There is a new feature that lets you customize your weapon load out as well as customizing your Marine and Xneomorphs for the multiplayer. This was fresh idea for the Alien games, and unlike the AVP game in 2010 while playing as the Xenomorphs in multiplayer, its in third person instead of the queasy first person perspective that many gamers disliked. The mutilplayer modes are easily the best part of the game but sadly cant save the entire game.

In conclusion, Aliens: Colonial Marines was a colossus disappointment, with a story that crushes any hopes you could have for something fresh and new, most awful AI seen in years, and non existent imagination put in to make this game stand out from its predecessors we here at Horror News Network Games, give Aliens: Colonial Marines a 4 out of 10 and as much as it saddens me to say this I would have rather this game never came out at all than this 'final' product that fans waited years for. I am not going to go as far as to say I hope there is never another Alien game made but please something has to change, give the fans a game they can be proud to stand behind, a game they will want to replay over and over, a game with ALIENS EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!

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Rob Caprilozzi
CEO / Owner at Horror News Network

Rob Caprilozzi created Comic Monsters in 2004 and eventually expanded the site in 2009 to Horror News Network. Born out his love for all aspects of horror, Rob still remains hardcore comic fan. You can keep up with him on Twitter @RobCaprilozzi.


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